Toughie 524

Toughie No 524 by Giovanni

Polymaths Required!

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BD Rating – Difficulty ****Enjoyment ****

Giovanni has given us a Toughie which covers a broad spectrum of knowledge from Greek mythology to jazz musician via a meteor shower. As always his definitions are very precise and his wordplay is exceedingly fair. I struggled with it a bit (especially 4d) but enjoyed it a lot.
Let us know how you got on in a comment and please don’t forget to signal how much you enjoyed it by clicking on one of the stars below.

Across Clues

1a  Musician, learner with hesitation, was flat unfortunately to begin with (4,6)
{FATS WALLER} – this is a Jazz Pianist, composer and singer who died in 1943. We want the abbreviation for learner and an interjection expressing hesitation, but before all that there’s an anagram (unfortunately) of WAS FLAT.

9a  One to rescue limited number, going to a height (4)
{NOAH} – this is a semi-all-in-one. The abbreviation (limited) for number is followed by A and H(eight).

10a  Beginners’ alphabet in wording under diagram could be taxing (10)
{CAPITATION} – put the abbreviation for the Initial Teaching Alphabet inside the text that appears under a diagram to make a poll-tax.

11a  Government agent against despot, not half (6)
{CONSUL} – the sort of government agent that you may come across if you get into trouble abroad is made from a prefix meaning against and the first half of the title of a ruler in Muslim countries.

12a  Space traveller by himself with a bit of personality (7)
{PERSEID} – this space traveller is a meteor shower associated with the Swift-Tuttle comet. Start with a term (3,2) meaning by himself or by itself and add one of the three parts of the personality in psychoanalytic theory according to Freud (the other two being the ego and superego).

15a  Author’s car (7)
{PULLMAN} – double definition. The surname of the children’s author (who wrote the magnificent “His Dark Materials” trilogy) is also a luxurious railway car.

16a  Fish caught — endless hassle (5)
{CHARR} – this is a fish of the salmon family, found in mountain lakes and rivers. It starts with C (caught, as in cricket) and this is followed by a verb meaning to hassle without its final Y (endless).

17a  Ends with wounds, head being covered (4)
{AIMS} – the definition is ends or objectives. It’s a verb meaning wounds without its initial M (head being covered).

18a  Aspect of moon’s appearance said to unsettle (4)
{FAZE} – a verb meaning to unsettle sounds like (said) one of the aspects of the moon.

19a  Cold fish (5)
{BLEAK} – an adjective meaning cold (as it may be in midwinter) is also the name of a small silvery river fish.

21a  Before the start of event formidable person will be dressing (7)
{TARTARE} – this is a mayonnaise dressing. Put a formidable or ferocious person in front of E(vent).

22a  Shopping area? Then for demolition use hammer (7)
{MALLEUS} – a small bone in the middle ear (also known as a hammer because of its shape) is a shopping area followed by an anagram (for demolition) of USE.

24a  Former PM ignoring the Queen — hairy stuff? (6)
{THATCH} – a former Prime Minister (who had a frosty relationship with the Queen) loses (ignoring) the Queen’s initials to leave thick hair.

27a  Two wines, litres being drunk? I’m not happy (10)
{MALCONTENT} – someone who is the opposite of satisfied with the current situation is formed from a burgundy wine followed by a deep-red Spanish wine, with L(itres) inserted (drunk).

28a  Paint stains son initially removed (4)
{OILS} – remove the first S (son initially) from a verb meaning stains or dirties.

29a  Very many like identification using letters only? (10)
{NUMBERLESS} – double definition, the second semi-cryptic.

Down Clues

2d  Hero is a ‘card’ wanting a kiss (4)
{AJAX} – the name of this mythical Greek hero is constructed from A, the abbreviation for a court card in bridge, A again and the symbol for a kiss.

3d  Seaside town struggles with summer finally gone (2,4)
{ST IVES} – a Cornish seaside town is a verb meaning struggles without the final letter of (summe)R. Beautiful surface.

4d  Using some upsetting rhetoric, I am a ranter in mostly obsolete language (7)
{ARAMAIC} – hidden (some) and reversed (upsetting) in the clue is a Semitic language. Giovanni, as always, is very precise in his definition – although the language is pretty much obsolete a form of it is still in use in some Eastern Orthodox churches (so it’s mostly obsolete).

5d  Abode in narrow passage, we hear (4)
{LAIN} – this was the last answer I got because I kept thinking of aisle for the narrow passage. In fact it’s a sound-alike (we hear) of a narrow road. Abode, here, is not a noun but the past participle of the verb to abide, i.e. it means dwelt. So we want the past participle of another verb meaning to abide or remain.

6d  Managed flattering attention — no time to show ill will (7)
{RANCOUR} – the definition is ill will. Start with a synonym for managed and add the sort of flattering attention that may be paid, without its final T (no time to show).

7d  Perfect short story enthralling tot with mum (10)
{CONSUMMATE} – a word, from French, for a short story contains (enthralling) a verb to tot up and an affectionate abbreviation of mother. The definition is perfect.

8d  Flirts with wandering hands — peril! (10)
{PHILANDERS} – an anagram (wandering) of HANDS PERIL.

12d  Estate office has scheme to replace its head (10)
{PLANTATION} – this is an estate where things are grown (cotton, tea or sugar for example). Start with another word for a local office and replace its initial (head) S with a scheme.

13d  Noteworthy as script from borderline candidate might be? (10)
{REMARKABLE} – double definition, the second a cryptic definition of an examination script that may be in need of a second assessment.

14d  Dog beginning to dig place for the bone? (5)
{DHOLE} – this is an Indian wild dog. The first letter (beginning) of D(ig) is followed by a place where the dog may hide his bone.

15d  What’s formal and stuffy about a king (5)
{PRIAM} – put an adjective meaning formal and stuffy around A to form the name of a king of Troy in Greek mythology.

19d  One of the top priests, a clever person protecting the Queen (7)
{BRAHMIN} – put a term meaning an intelligent person around the abbreviation of the Queen’s title to make someone from the highest or priestly caste in Hinduism.

20d  What you get in some bars — strong Asian drink served up, all right? (7)
{KARAOKE} – start with a strong colourless liquor made from raisins (the name of which is the Arabic word for sweat) which turns milky-white when water is added and reverse it (served up). Now add a way of saying the abbreviation meaning all right to make a form of entertainment (?) heard in some bars.

23d  Time for eating less? I left food (6)
{LENTIL} – it’s that time of year again when we have to be prepared to see this word for a period of self-denial in many puzzles. Add I and L(eft) to make some food.

25d  Cut down on fat — get some fruit (4)
{PLUM} – remove the final P (cut down) from an adjective meaning fat.

26d  Workers in county briefly taking hour off (4)
{ANTS} – start with the abbreviated (briefly) name of a county on the south coast of England and remove the initial H (taking hour off).

I liked 19a, 24a, 8d and 12d today, but my favourite clue is 3d. Let us know what you liked in a comment.

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33 Comments

  1. Posted March 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    10a, 18a and 5d held me up the longest – thanks for the explanation at 5d – I wasn’t conversant with abode as a past participle.
    Tricky in these places and others due to the odd words (14d/16a were hard to fathom). All in all not bad at all.
    Thanks to gazza and Giovanni

  2. crypticsue
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    A proper 4* toughie in every respect today. I needed cogitation, perservation, Gnome’s Law, confirmation from the Gnome and all sorts to get to the end. Thanks to Gazza for all the explanations, especially for 5d which we couldn’t get at all, although in our defence I did ask Gnomey whether there was any link between ‘abode’ and ‘lay in’ but we couldn’t come up with one. I liked the wonderfully confusing 18a – lots of four letter words relating to moon with those checking letters! and 17a too. Thanks Giovanni for a very nice brain workout – always a great sense of satisfaction when I complete a crossword of that complexity.

  3. Jezza
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was excellent today. I struggled all the way through, but enjoyed every minute!
    Thanks to Giovanni for a super puzzle. Thanks also to gazza for the review – I was unaware until I read the notes that I had 5d wrong (I entered LAIR, and then tried to justify it as a homophone of LAYER, which did not make much sense, but I moved on anyway!)

  4. BigBoab
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    May I echo Jezza, great crossword and a great review.

  5. Andy
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Got about 3/4 in before having to resort to the clues and answers, my general knowledge not good enough for this one. Fortunately the obscure (to me) 5 letter clues in the centre had enough checking letters to look up in the dictionary. Very clever and accurate as usual cluing though. Thanks to Giovanni and to Gazza

  6. Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    As a Clued-Up (or whatever its current incarnation is) user I didn’t know who the setter was, but recognised it as piece of top-quality compiling, such that I was keen to try and finish this one and returned to it after lunch. Agree with Gazza that clueing very fair, 3d also a stand-out. Two four letter words were last in by some way, and I also had hit ‘Submit’ originally with LAIR for no particular reason that I could properly justify at 5d. I could immediately then have another go with something sounding like lane.
    Another reason for allowing more time is that it’s howling a gale again and miserable and cloudy just 25km down the road from today’s DT Cryptic bloggers……….
    A request to the blog management – as you now usually list the Quickie pun, might it be possible to similarly give a bit of a heads-up with the Toughie setter, as that information sometimes influences my decision whether to even bother opening it up. I seem to remember Phil McNeil messaging a while ago that this would happen, but like many aspects of today’s world of spin, a name-change to discourage allusions to ‘Screwed-Up’ didn’t change any of the original reasons for it receiving that particular epithet.

    • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      The names of the Toughie setters has been added to the Telegraph Puzzles site. Just go to The Knowledge / Inside Puzzles / Telegraph Toughie compilers

      http://puzzles.telegraph.co.uk/site/article_full_details?article_id=31

      The list is usually updated some time during the previous evening.

    • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      I also maintain a list, and try to update it each day (no promises!):

      http://bigdave44.com/faq/toughie-setters/

      • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        Thanks – I’d never spotted your list, and certainly never managed to excavate down through sufficient layers of Puzzles Telegraph to unearth it. For some bizarre reason, I sort of expected it to appear on the puzzle as one opened it, rather like in the newspaper………Silly boy!

        • Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          I’m sure the editor will be disappointed that many subscribers don’t read his messages!

          In case you missed it, this one was published on the 20th January:

          Hello. Puzzles Editor here. I would like to draw your attention to a new facility which we have added to the website.

          If you look in The Knowledge > Inside Puzzles, you will find a list of Toughie Compilers. Long overdue, I know! Anyway, for Toughie solvers who would like to know whether they are wrestling with Giovanni, Elgar or Excalibur, there is now an on-going list.

          It starts at Toughie No. 400 and runs up to tomorrow’s Toughie as I write, which will be No. 498.

          … Which means that next Wednesday will be No. 500 — when our setter is a mystery guest. I’ll explain more next week.

          We’ll be updating the Toughie Compilers list every day, and we’ll fill in the first 399 when we get a chance.

          Best wishes
          Phil McNeill
          Telegraph Puzzles Editor

          • Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

            By the way, I have filled in Nos 86 – 399 on my own list (mentioned earlier). I’m afraid I don’t have any information about the puzzles before I started the blog except hat Toughie No. 1 was set by Giovanni, today’s setter.

    • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Chairman, hope you’re enjoying your stay in not-so-sunny Spain!
      According to the lastest forecast I’ve seen it’s likely to stay windy and cool for another 3 days with intermittent rain. Normal service may be resumed at weekend.
      This Spanish weather site is pretty accurate most of the time, at least for the next 3 days.
      http://www.eltiempo.es/almoradi.html

      • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        Cheers, guv – I’ll give that one a glance as well. I’ve been using XCWeather.co.uk which isn’t bad. I’ve been here since mid-Jan and it’s been really nice, but extremely mixed the last 2 weeks. The rain and hail on Fri/Sat was so severe that it set my car alarm off several times. I’ve never had that before. Hope it picks up at the w/e as I have visitors arriving Sat and will look rather ridicilous as I’ve been regularly saying now nice it’s been.

  7. Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Bit tricky for me! Never heard of the meteor shower or, surprisingly to me, the Spanish wine! Must try some.
    Managed about 3/4 without Gazza’s hints.
    Thanks to Giovanni for the excellent puzzle and to Gazza for the required assistance.

    • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Yes, I’d never heard of that Spanish wine, although I suspect a variant of the word ‘Tinto’.I’ll scour the shelves of the Mercadona in anticipation, but with little expectation of any success.

      • Posted March 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

        Same here – I’ll let you know if I find some. Consum may be a better bet as they’re a little more up-market.

  8. pegasus
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    What a humdinger today, I gave up on it three times but kept returning till finally completing it, must confess I needed the red book quite a lot, hadn’t heard of the dog before nor the fish. Thanks to Giovanni for a great puzzle and to Gazza for the excellent comments.

  9. Giovanni
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for encouraging feedback

    Still a few places left ( I think!) on the Oxford crossword course if Big Dave would like to give it a final shot please. But hurry …!

  10. Upthecreek
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Giovanni for a great, but not too difficult teaser. It was one of those days when everything fell into place. Favourites were 1 and 4 which were 1st in. Didn’t know 12a but it was easy from checking letters. Good job we have the footie on tonight!

  11. Qix
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Excellent puzzle, I really enjoyed it.

    I was slowed down a little because, having got 2D and 18A quite early on, I kept trying to fit a “Q” into the answers!

    ★★★½ for difficulty for me, ★★★★ for enjoyment. Great stuff!

    • Digby
      Posted March 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      I know what you mean – a Phantom Pangram double-bluff by The Don, perhaps?

  12. Nestorius
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Pffff, finally… I’ve put this one to bed.

    Last in was 19d with its nice “HM” instead or the usual “ER”.

    Notes:
    1a: didn’t know the name which shows that I am disfunctional where it comes to contemporary culture
    9a: I just wonder how many people have put down Loth.who was rescued by Abraham in the war of the kings. Lot= limited number…
    11a: Is every sultan a despot? There are no sultans who reign as constitutional monarchs?
    15a: A blast from the past.
    16a: new word for me
    27a: The second wine was also new to me
    2d: My misery reading Homer in school pays off. It also helps that I come from Amsterdam ;-)
    5d: new word
    7d: I still don’t get the wordplay and will have to look at Gazza’s notes.

    Superclue for me was 13d! What a brilliant ddef+crypdef!

    Vintage Don! Enjoyment *****, diff ****

    Thanks Giovanni & Gazza!

  13. Lea
    Posted March 9, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    On Gazza’s advice I started this and got over half done before I resorted to partial assistance with the hints and then carried on. My sticking point (as per usual) is the four letter words – my brain doesn’t like them.

    Enjoyed the challenge and felt really good when I got my two favourites – 1a and 3d/

    Thanks to Giovanni and thanks Gazza for the heads up and for the hints.

  14. Derek
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Another late input from me – I don’t have time in the afternoon and evening to tackle both the cryptic and the toughie so the toughie gets attention next morning after breakfast – provided my daughter has not been and nicked the DT!
    This was a hard but enjoyable challenge from The Don.
    I liked : 1a, 12a, 21a, 22a, 28a, 2d, 4d, 7d, 12d, 14d, 19d & 20d.

    Re the Latin in 12a : Surely it refers to “itself” not “himself”?

    • gazza
      Posted March 10, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      Derek,
      That was my initial thought about 12a as well, but the blessed Chambers has “by himself, etc; essentially; in itself”.

      • Derek
        Posted March 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Chambers is not always 100% correct!

  15. Giovanni
    Posted March 10, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    OED gves the ‘by himself’ etc as ‘now rarely’, so Chambers is not wrong unless you count an omission of the ‘rare’ as an error. Chambers is the authority for Telegraph crosswords, and I take pains to make my definitions fair. Although I must admit that I have never come across this usage myself, I don’t think that there is honestly anything to worry about!

    • Derek
      Posted March 10, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      You are always VERY fair but the se in per se is impersonal.

      • Qix
        Posted March 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

        Why should “se” be impersonal? In Latin, the third-person reflexive pronoun would be the same in both cases (“itself” or “himself”), so there’s no reason that the same shouldn’t apply when English adopts the term.

        • Derek
          Posted March 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

          Hi Qix!
          I have just hauled down two books – untouched for years!
          1. Elementary Latin Grammar, Bryant and Lake, OUP, 1931. At page 46 at the bottom is se as a third person reflexive pronoun which corroborates what you say above.
          2. Whites Latin English Dictionary, Longmans, 1930. At page 557, central column
          is se Inseparable Particle = aside, by itself. This corroborates my standpoint.

          In the phrase per se there is no reference to a reflexive pronoun!!!

          • Qix
            Posted March 11, 2011 at 1:37 am | Permalink

            The third person reflexive pronoun is “se” in the accusative (and ablative, “sui” in genitive and “sibi” in dative). There is no change for gender or quantity – the pronoun is reflexive, and “refers back” to the subject.

            So “Caesar se laudavit” is “Caesar praised himself”, whereas “Caesar eum laudavit” is “Caesar praised him“.

            There are no separate Latin first- or second- person reflexive pronouns, since there is no nominative case for reflexive pronouns; they refer to the subject, and can’t, themselves, be the subject. The English “I praised myself” would be the same, in Latin, as “I praised me”; the same applies to the second person.

            In this context, “himself”, “herself” and “itself” would be indistinguishable from the pronoun; the distinction would be drawn from the subject, so for “space traveller”, “himself” or “herself” would be fine.

            • Derek
              Posted March 11, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

              Hi Qix – nog een keer!
              What you say about reflexive verbs is absolutely correct!
              In the phrase per se we are not dealing with a reflexive verb.

              • Derek
                Posted March 11, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

                In any case the Perseid Showers are inanimate objects – even though they may be carrying the seeds of life!
                Thus in this case itself is 100% correct.

                Wonder what Brian Cox can bring to this dicussion?